A Field Guide to 100 Birds of Heron's Head - Now Online!
One of San Francisco’s ecological treasures, Heron’s Head Park is a 22-acre open space and thriving wildlife habitat located in the City’s Southeast Sector. Teeming with native plants and a wide variety of birds, Heron’s Head Park is one of the few wetlands on San Francisco’s shoreline, and is an example of restoration success. Heron’s Head Park attracts more than 100 bird species a year and is used for education and recreation by thousands of bird-watchers, hikers, students, teachers, and visitors from around the San Francisco Bay Area, The land is owned by the Port of San Francisco, which works to enhance, expand, and preserve the Park, and to promote the public access and appreciation of all it has to offer. The Port and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department have teamed up to offer hands-on education programs for youth and public participation opportunities for visitors of all ages.
Heron’s Head Park is open daily from dawn to dusk, and is located at the foot of Cargo Way at Jennings Street in San Francisco. (+37° 44' 22.99", -122° 22' 33.49")
Heron's Head Park was born in the early 1970s, when the Port began filling the bay to construct what was to be the Pier 98 shipping terminal. The terminal construction never materialized, and the peninsula remained undeveloped. Over years of settlement and exposure to the tides, a salt marsh emerged, attracting shorebirds, waterfowl and aquatic wildlife. In the late 1990s, with funding from the City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Port, the California Coastal Conservancy and the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, the Port undertook a major renovation of Pier 98. The project enhanced and expanded the marsh by removing over 5,000 tons of concrete, asphalt, metal and other debris, created a tidal channel to improve circulation, and constructed upland trails, picnic and bird-viewing areas and a fishing pier. In 1999, the former Pier 98 officially reopened to the public as Heron's Head Park, named for its resemblance – when viewed from the air – to one of its residents: the Great Blue Heron.
In 2012 the Port completed various improvements to the park, made possible due to a 2008 voter-approved bond measure. Park improvements feature an off-leash dog run, a dedicated bike lane leading up to the park, and other park amenities such as bicycle racks and picnic tables.
Since Heron’s Head Park opened in 1999, the Port has provided environmental education in the park for students, teachers, adults, volunteers and a diverse array of visitors. The programs teach participants about the wetland and upland habitat, San Francisco bay ecology and our role in the ecosystem. Most programs include hands-on restoration of the habitat at Heron’s Head Park. The Port’s environmental education programs at Heron’s Head Park are offered free of charge through the Port’s partnership with the City and County of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s Youth Stewardship Program (for more information about environmental education programs in Heron’s Head Park, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). SF Recreation & Parks Department Programs at Heron's Head Park (PDF)
The EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park
In 2010, a non-profit organization and former Port tenant, Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), constructed The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park to serve as a demonstration of green building technology and a recreational and educational resource to the surrounding community, the city and the region. The EcoCenter features 100% solar power, on-site wastewater treatment, a living roof, rainwater harvesting, all native landscaping, sustainable building materials, and other resource efficient building features. It was the first LEED Platinum – Zero Net Energy building certified in San Francisco.
In 2014, at LEJ’s request, the Port assumed ownership of the EcoCenter and, after a competitive selection process, leased the EcoCenter to a new operator, the Bay Institute Aquarium Foundation, in partnership with City College of San Francisco and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The EcoCenter is currently open to the public 9:30-3:30, Wednseday through Saturday, when staff are on hand to offer a short impromptu tour of the facility. The Bay Institute Aquarium Foundation offers free tours and educational programs at the EcoCenter. For more information and a calendar of public programs and events, go to http://www.ecocenterhhp.org.
Heron's Head Park has been the subject of previous environmental site investigations that are summarized in the following reports:
For more information about the Port's wetland restoration efforts, please contact Carol Bach at:
Wetland Restoration | Heron's Head Park | Pier 94 Wetlands | A Field Guide to 100 Birds of Heron's Head